Russell S. Buhite

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With 32 years of experience as a trial attorney, Russell Buhite is a nationally-recognized defense counsel representing life, health and disability insurance companies and benefit plans in litigation and rendering of client advice on both ERISA and non-ERISA matters pending in federal and state courts across the country.  He is a member of the life, health, and disability committee of Defense Research Institute (DRI) as well as a former national chair of the American Bar Association TIPS section’s Health and Disability Insurance Committee and of the Healthcare Reform Task Force.  He has published extensively in this area of law as a co-author on all editions of the ABA’s ERISA Survey of the Federal Circuits as well as for DRI’s “For the Defense” magazine, and other national publications, and has spoken widely on ERISA litigation issues.  He is a member of the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel, composed of recognized leaders in the defense legal community worldwide, who have achieved professional distinction, following extensive client and peer review.

An AV-Preeminent-rated attorney by Martindale-Hubbell, he has also been named in Best Lawyers in America – Litigation-ERISA (2011-Present), and selected as Lawyer of the Year for Seattle in this category for 2019.  He is admitted to practice by the state bars of Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Florida, and Missouri and in a number of federal district courts and courts of appeal.

Learn more about Russell S. Buhite
  • Carr v. John Hancock Life Ins. Co. (U.S.A.), 2017 WL 2963446 (11th Cir. 2017). Summary judgment for defense granted in ERISA long-term care insurance matter upheld following appeal.
  • Smiley v. Smile Brands, 610 Fed. App’x 8 (11th Cir.), cert. denied, 135 S.Ct. 585(2015). Summary judgment for defense in ERISA penalty case upheld on appeal.
  • Kornacki v. Southern Farm Bureau Life Ins. Co., M.D. Fla., summary judgment for defendant in life insurance lapse case
  • Lawrence v. Pioneer Plastics, Middle District of Fla. ERISA matter. Bench trial verdict for defense.
  • Weiss v. Western-Southern Life Ins. Co., M.D. Fla., summary judgment for the defense in ERISA disability case.
  • McDaniel v. AIG Life Ins. Co., Hillsborough County Circuit Court. Jury verdict for defense in occupational accident disability case.
  • Roer v. John Hancock, S.D. FL., summary judgment for defendant in life insurance coverage case.

Education

  • J.D., Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, 1987
  • B.A., cum laude, Rice University, 1984

Admittance to Practice

  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Florida
  • Missouri
  • Alaska
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern and Western Districts of Washington
  • U.S. District Court, District of Oregon
  • U.S. District Court, District of Alaska
  • U.S. District Court, Middle, Northern and Southern Districts of Florida
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth and Eleventh Circuits

Professional Activities

  • American Bar Association
  • Defense Research Institute, Life, Health and Disability Insurance Committee (1992 – Present)
  • SHRM
  • King County Bar Association
  • Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel
  • AIDA (Association Internationale de droit Assurances)

Speeches

  • Ogletree Deakins Seminar - "Pardon the Interruption: The Kitchen Sink Version" - Seattle - October 18, 2017
  • Ogletree Deakins Seminar - "Benefits 101: What Every HR Person Must Know to Avoid Creating Unnecessary Claims and Complications in the Administration of Employee Benefits" - Seattle - October 28, 2016
  • Ogletree Deakins Seminar - "The Local Leave (and Scheduling) Labyrinth" - Seattle - October 28, 2016
  • American Bar Association’s 40th Annual TIPS Mid-Winter Symposium on Insurance and Employee Benefits - "Supplementation of the Administrative Record with Additional Evidence in ERISA Litigation" - Austin - January 16 - 18, 2014
  • Dunkin Donuts Independent Franchisee Org - "Effects of Healthcare Reform Law" - Ft. Lauderdale - February 24, 2013
  • Sterling Education Programs - "Employment Law Update" - Tampa - August 23, 2011
  • ExecSense Webinar - "What Insurance Lawyers Need To Know About New Long Term Care Insurance Products" - Tampa - May 1, 2011
  • ExecSense WebinaR - "What Insurance Lawyers Need To Know About The Impact Of State Of Florida v. U.S. Department Of Health & Human Services (N.D. FL. Jan. 31, 2011) On The Survival Of The Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act" - Tampa - March 1, 2011
  • National Business Institute - "Insurance Coverage Law in Florida" - Tampa - January 1, 1994
  • March 2019 - FDCC Life, Health, and Disability Insurance Committee Newsletter - "Do you Have an ERISA Short-Term Disability Plan or a Payroll Practice"
  • Spring 2019 - ABA - TIPS Section, Insurance Regulation Committee - "What's All This About InsurTech?"
  • Winter 2019 - American Bar Association, Tortsource - "Healthcare Policy and Regulation After the Mid-Term Elections"
  • January 2018 - ABA, Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, Health and Disability Insurance Law Committee - 9th Circuit Chapter (2005-2018) - "ERISA Survey of Federal Circuits (1st through 6th Editions)"
  • January 2016 - ABA, Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, Health and Disability Insurance Law Committee - 11th Circuit Chapter (2005-2016) - "ERISA Survey of Federal Circuits (1st through 6th Editions)"
  • January 2016 - ABA, Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, Health and Disability Insurance Law Committee - 11th Circuit Chapter (2005-2016) - "ERISA Survey of Federal Circuits (1st through 6th Editions)"
  • Fall 2015 - Tortsource, Vol. 18, No. 1, Fall 2015, ABA TIPS Section - "Supreme Court Upholds ACA Premium Tax Credits on All Exchanges"
  • December 1, 2014 - ABA TIPS Section's Tortsource Magazine, Vol. 16, No. 2 - "Private Healthcare Exchanges Grow in Popularity While Affordable Care Act Struggles"
  • December 1, 2014 - For The Defense - "Retirement Plan Litigation Over Service Provider Fees Keeps Plan Fiduciaries on Alert"
  • January 1, 2014 - ERISA Survey of Federal Circuits, ABA, Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section - "The 11th Circuit"
  • October 1, 2012 - WestLaw Journal, Volume 22, Issue 52 - "Righting the Ship in the Nick of Time? Congress Reauthorizes NFIP"
  • Spring 2012 - Watts v. Bell South Telecommunications - "The 11th Circuit Breaks From the Pack on Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies"
  • January 1, 2012 - ABA Publishing - "11th Circuit Chapter of ERISA Survey of Federal Circuits"
  • 2012 - For the Defense (co-author) - "Did Amara Change the Landscape?"
  • January 1, 2011 - Sterling Education.com - "Top 10 Things for HR Professionals to Watch For in 2011 and Beyond"
  • 2005 - 2018 - ERISA Survey of Federal Circuits book- ABA, Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, Health and Disability Insurance Law Committee - "9th Circuit and 11th Circuit Chapter Sections"
  • April 1, 1996 - 15 Trial Advocate Quarterly, No. 2 - "Insurance Policy Application Misrepresentations and their Consequences Under Florida Law"
  • Lawyer of the Year Badge
  • Best Lawyers Award Badge
  • AV® Preeminent™ by LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell
  • Best Lawyers in America – Litigation-ERISA (2011-Present)
  • Best Lawyers 2019 Seattle Litigation – ERISA “Lawyer of the Year”
  • Florida Super Lawyers-Employee Benefits (2006-2007, 2013-present)

Insights by Russell S. Buhite